Friday, December 31, 2010

This week in nanotechnology - December 31, 2010

Researchers from the Quantum Photonics Group at DTU Fotonik in collaboration with the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen surprise the scientific world with the discovery that light emission from solid-state photon emitters, the so-called quantum dots, is fundamentally different than hitherto believed. The new insight may find important applications as a way to improve efficiency of quantum information devices.

Your genome in minutes: New technology could slash sequencing time. Scientists from Imperial College London are developing technology that could ultimately sequence a person's genome in mere minutes, at a fraction of the cost of current commercial techniques. In the new study, the researchers demonstrated that it is possible to propel a DNA strand at high speed through a tiny 50 nanometre (nm) hole - or nanopore - cut in a silicon chip, using an electrical charge. As the strand emerges from the back of the chip, its coding sequence (bases A, C, T or G) is read by a 'tunnelling electrode junction'.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at UC Santa Barbara has produced a groundbreaking study of how nanoparticles are able to biomagnify in a simple microbial food chain.

Researchers in Japan have succeeded in controlling the few-particle quantum state of a semiconductor quantum dot, and changing its correlation energies. This research achievement will make it possible to develop semiconductor non-linear devices which enable stable drive with low power consumption.

Just as walkie-talkies transmit and receive radio waves, carbon nanotubes can transmit and receive light at the nanoscale, Cornell researchers have discovered. The researchers used the Rayleigh scattering of light -- the same phenomenon that creates the blue sky -- from carbon nanotubes grown in the lab. They found that while the propagation of light scattering is mostly classical and macroscopic, the color and intensity of the scattered radiation is determined by intrinsic quantum properties.

An international team of researchers has announced a breakthrough that gives a new spin to semiconductor nanoelectronics and the world of information technology. The team has developed an electrically controllable device whose functionality is based on an electron's spin. Their results are the culmination of a 20-year scientific quest involving many international researchers and groups. The team is the first to combine the spin-helix state and anomalous Hall effect to create a realistic spin-field-effect transistor (FET) operable at high temperatures, complete with an AND-gate logic device.

Researchers in Japan Researchers fabricate first single crystal diamond nanoelectromechanical switch. The NEMS switch has the advantages of low-leakage current, low-power consumption and sharp on/off ratio in comparison with the conventional semiconductor devices.

And finally, some Friday fun - researchers etch the periodic table onto a single hair:

Friday, December 17, 2010

This week in nanotechnology - December 17, 2010

University of Utah physicists stored information for 112 seconds in what may become the world's tiniest computer memory: magnetic "spins" in the centers or nuclei of atoms. Then the physicists retrieved and read the data electronically – a big step toward using the new kind of memory for both faster conventional and superfast "quantum" computers.

Researchers open the door to biological computers. Genetically modified cells can be made to communicate with each other as if they were electronic circuits. Using yeast cells, a group of researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has taken a groundbreaking step towards being able to build complex systems in the future where the body's own cells help to keep us healthy.
Genetically modified cells can be made to communicate with each other as if they were electronic circuits
Genetically modified cells can be made to communicate with each other as if they were electronic circuits.

You can touch a functioning light bulb and know right away that it's hot. Ouch! But you can't touch a single molecule and get the same feedback. Rice University researchers say they have the next best thing -- a way to determine the temperature of a molecule or flowing electrons by using Raman spectroscopy combined with an optical antenna.

Artificial fluidic nanochannels that mimic the capabilities of transmembrane proteins are highly prized for a number of advanced technologies. However, it has been difficult to make individual artificial channels of this size – until now. Researchers with the Berkeley Lab have been able to fabricate nanochannels that are only two nanometers in size, using standard semiconductor manufacturing processes.

Engineers at Duke and Harvard universities have developed a "magnetic sponge" that after implantation into a patient can "squeeze" out drugs, cells, or other agents when passed over by a magnet. The researchers demonstrate that the new material — called a macroporous ferrogel — can be compressed as much as 70 percent by an applied magnetic field. The reversible compression quickly forces out the drugs, cells, or proteins embedded in the ferrogel.

Microchips that 'harvest' the energy they need from their own surroundings, without depending on batteries or mains electricity. That will be possible now that researchers from the University of Twente's MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology have for the first time succeeded in manufacturing a microchip with an efficient solar cell placed on top of the microelectronics.

A nano endoscope for living cells. Researchers have now developed a multifunctional endoscope-like device, using individual carbon nanotubes for prolonged intracellular probing at the single-organelle level, without any recordable disturbance to the metabolism of the cell. These endoscopes can transport attoliter volumes of fluid, record picoampere signals from cells, and can be manipulated magnetically. Furthermore, the tip deflects with submicrometer resolution, and the attachment of gold nanoparticles allows intracellular fingerprinting using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).

Friday, December 10, 2010

This week in nanotechnology - December 10, 2010

Taking a leaf from animals like dolphins and pilot whales that are known to have anti-fouling skins, researchers are using nanotechnology to create anti-bacteria plastic 'skins' with nanoimprint technology  – synthetic, chemical-free, anti-bacterial surfaces. The surfaces can reduce infections caused by pathogens such as S. aureus and E. coli and can be used on common plastics, medical devices, lenses and even ship hulls. Conventional methods for preventing bacterial surface attachment may use potentially harmful metal ions, nanoparticles, chemicals or UV-radiation.

Chemists have refuted a basic postulate of Förster theory, which describes energy transfers between pigment molecules, such as those that underlie photosynthesis. A revised version of the theory could have an impact on the design of optical computers and improve the efficiency of solar cells.

Viruses have a bad rep - and rightly so. The ability of a virus to quickly and precisely replicate itself makes it a destructive scourge to animals and plants alike. Now, researchers are turning the tables, harnessing and exploiting the "self-renewing" and "self-assembling" properties of viruses for a higher purpose: to build a new generation of small, powerful and highly efficient batteries and fuel cells.

Researchers have shown that a magnetically polarised current can be manipulated by electric fields. This important discovery opens up the prospect of simultaneously processing and storing data on electrons held in the molecular structure of computer chips - combining computer memory and processing power on the same chip.

Researchers have moved a step closer to creating robust, three-dimensional microbatteries that would charge faster and hold other advantages over conventional lithium-ion batteries. They could power new generations of remote sensors, display screens, smart cards, flexible electronics and biomedical devices. The batteries employ vertical arrays of nickel-tin nanowires perfectly encased in PMMA, a widely used polymer best known as Plexiglas.

Even smaller batteries - the world's smallest battery, as a matter of fact - consists of a single tin oxide nanowire anode 100 nanometers in diameter and 10 micrometers long, a bulk lithium cobalt oxide cathode three millimeters long, and an ionic liquid electrolyte. The device offers the ability to directly observe change in atomic structure during charging and discharging of the individual "trees."

Friday, December 3, 2010

This week in nanotechnology - December 3, 2010

IBM scientists this week unveiled a new chip technology - called CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics - that integrates electrical and optical devices on the same piece of silicon, enabling computer chips to communicate using pulses of light (instead of electrical signals), resulting in smaller, faster and more power-efficient chips than is possible with conventional technologies.

A group of Beckman Institute researchers have discovered a practical method for direct writing of metal lines less than five nanometers (5 nm) wide, a big step in creating contacts to and interconnects between nanoscale device structures like carbon nanotubes and graphene that have potential uses in electronics applications.

Researchers at Delft University of Technology and Oxford University announce a new type of nanopore device that could help in developing fast and cheap genetic analysis. They report on a novel method that combines man-made and biological materials to result in a tiny hole on a chip, which is able to measure and analyze single DNA molecules.
formation of hybrid pores by the directed insertion of the biological protein pore alpha hemolysin into solid-state nanopores

Artistic rendering of the formation of hybrid pores by the directed insertion of the biological protein pore alpha hemolysin (pink) into solid-state nanopores (holes in the green bottom layer). An applied electric field drives a double-stranded DNA molecule (blue, left) into the hole, which subsequently drags the pink hemolysin protein into position. Once assembled, these hybrid nanopores can be used to pull single-strand DNA (blue, center) through, for analysis and sequencing.

Emerging applications of carbon nanotubes: Researchers at MIT have published an overview of a variety of applications that are based on the unique properties of pristine as well as functionalized carbon nanotubes.
While the nanotechnology industry is expected to produce large quantities of nanoparticles in the near future, researchers have been worried about the environmental impact of the global nanotechnological revolution. Now, researchers found a method that could replace nearly all of the toxic chemicals required to make gold nanoparticles. The missing ingredient can be found in nearly every kitchen's spice cabinet - cinnamon.

A European consortium comprising National Physical Laboratory (NPL), ST Microelectronics, the University of Edinburgh, and TU Delft has been involved in the development and application of the Megaframe Imager - an ultrafast camera capable of recording images at the incredible rate of one million frames.

And finally for this week: free goodies! InTech, a multidisciplinary Open Access publisher of journals and books covering the fields of Science, Technology and Medicine, so far has published seven nanotechnology book titles that are available as free downloads.